June 23, 2018

Accounting News Roundup: Two Pages of Trump’s 2005 Return and #Envelopegate Redux | 03.15.17

donald trump tax reform

Has Donald Trump released his tax returns?

Nope! Well, maybe? I mean, probably not. Someone sent David Cay Johnston pages 1 and 2 from DJT’s 2005 1040 and…that’s it. Johnston speculated on Rachel Maddow’s show that it could’ve been Trump who actually sent them because the returns show that he made a lot of money. It shows income of $49.5 million, taxable income of $31.5 million, and total taxes of over $38 million.

Those big numbers probably make the Supreme Leader feel good about himself, but the White House got all bent out of shape anyway. Here’s the statement they issued before Maddow’s show even aired, essentially confirming the story before it saw the light of day:

“Before being elected President, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required,” the White House said in a statement. “That being said, Mr. Trump paid $38 million dollars even after taking into account large scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million dollars, as well as paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes and this illegally published return proves just that.”

The return does a show a couple of interesting things: 1) He was still using that huge NOL from 1995; 2) The majority of the taxes he paid, $31.2 million, were due to the AMT. Per usual, you should read Tony Nitti’s Twitter feed for the best insight. Of course you could read the president’s tweets and Johnston’s responses to them, if that’s more your thing.

This whole ordeal has satisfied precisely no one since pages 1 and 2 don’t tell us the juicy stuff. You can expect these numbers to get beaten up for a day or two and then we’ll all start screaming for Schedules C and E.

PwC’s Oscars snafu redux

We’re a couple weeks removed from #envelopegate, but I recently appeared on Above the Law’s “Thinking Like a Lawyer” podcast to discuss it. Go listen and subscribe to the podcast if understanding the lawyer mind is of interest to you.

Also, I came across this post from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business on the importance of reputation that’s well worth your time.

And finally, for something related but not really, buried in that Booth column is a link to this Huffington Post article that I had not previously seen. It discusses Section 199, a overly broad portion of the tax code that has been in effect for over a decade:

The code allows a business conducting “qualified production activities” to claim a deduction equal to 9 percent of the income related to those activities. The claim effectively lowers a business’ tax rate on that income by 3 percent. But the legislative language and subsequent IRS regulations were worded so broadly that businesses have used it to claim lots of things no reasonable person would consider production, and allows the companies to pad out their estimates of how much income was actually related to that activity. A company that built a website might try to claim that almost all its revenue is related to that website, for instance.

One of the key architects of Section 199 was George Manousos, a PwC partner.

Brought to you by Accountingfly

Joey Havens, managing partner of Horne, an Accountingfly firm partner, wrote a column about leadership in accounting.

Previously, on Going Concern…

I wrote about MF Global’s response to PwC’s threat for a mistrial. Also, an ex-EY auditor made some bad decisions.

In other news:

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Accounting News Roundup | 01.21.10

How to find the “best and brightest” [CPA Success]
This may be a better topic for the friendly HR professional but figuring out who these future accounting rock stars are before they show up on their first day is “more art than science”, as Tom Hood notes.
Popular to some old-school thought, GPA does not always indicate who’s going to dominate in the real world and “soft skills” — besides being a terrible term — are in more demand than ever.
Help The The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago Help Haiti [Re: The Auditors]
The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago is having a drive today and since Francine’s friend is the CFO, we’ll be glad pass around the news:

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Guillermo Becerra, is the CFO of the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. I asked him how I could help him, and the Red Cross, during what must be an incredibly busy time post-Haiti earthquake.

“The Chicagoland community will come together on Thursday, January 21 to give to the American Red Cross as we help the people of Haiti recover from the catastrophic earthquake that devastated their country last week.
The Chicago Helps Haiti media relief drive begins at 5 a.m. and lasts until 11 p.m. Nearly every TV and radio station in our area will be promoting this fundraising effort throughout the day. You can help too, by giving via phone or online, and sharing your thoughts here, on Facebook or Twitter, and by asking others to give.
To give from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. CALL 1 (877) 565-5000 or visit www.chicagoredcross.org/haiti

Plus, we’re guessing that if you give, your 2009 tax return isn’t much of a concern.
If Your Password Is 123456, Just Make It HackMe [NYT]
The Times is concerned that you have a shitty password which puts you at a huge risk of being hacked by someone sitting in their parents’ basement.

Imperva found that nearly 1 percent of the 32 million people it studied had used “123456” as a password. The second-most-popular password was “12345.” Others in the top 20 included “qwerty,” “abc123” and “princess.”

You know who you are, ye with stupid passwords. Also, don’t even think of changing it to “654321” because that drops in at #19.

Accounting News Roundup: Haiti Relief Passes Senate; Accounting Job Surge? CPAs Basically Control People’s Lives | 01.22.10

Senate votes for faster tax breaks for Haiti gifts [WaPo]
As expected, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation yesterday that allows taxpayers to deduct donations made for Haiti relief efforts. You have until the end of February to donate so that it may be included on your 2009 return.

Maybe it’s bad legislation but we’ve been over that.

CPA Jobs Set for Surge. But When? [CPA Trendlines]
That’s the question, isn’t it? Rick Telberg, who has done a great job of tracking the Bureau of Labor Statistics on accountants, points out that while the latest BLS forecasts a 22% increase (279,400 jobs) by 2018, there’s no indication that it’s happening now:

[M]any tax, accounting and finance professionals are still slogging through the Great Recession. The Association for Financial Professionals, for instance, reported that about one in four respondents say their organizations will contract in 2010. At the same time, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of private companies found 43 percent of CEOs and CFOs still budgeting no expansion over the next 12 months to 18 months. The data just seem to reinforce economic uncertainties and a weak outlook.

The BLS is looking past the past the recession for the jump in opportunities but just when the hell will that be? Just because the economy isn’t contracting currently, doesn’t mean it won’t in the future and this “recovery” has been tepid at best.

Theismann to CPAs: You Are the Conscience of America [Web CPA]
Joe Theismann gets it. He knows that without all of you out there in CPA land, your clients don’t stand a chance. They’d be finished. Finished!

“You’re the conscience of America,” Theismann told conference-goers. “You are the survivors in tough times. With accountants, I’m not looking for someone to file taxes and do my financials. I can do that myself online. In your position you can basically control people’s lives.”

So get out there and control somebody’s life. Joe Theismann is expecting it.